West Virginia Has a ‘Drool in School’ Bill

This is in the Charleston Gazette-Mail of Charleston, West Virginia, the state capital. Their headline is A student religious liberties bill is on the verge of passing the WV House. A free speech group says it creates confusion. They have a comments section. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

The “West Virginia Student Religious Liberties Act” is up for passage in the state’s House of Delegates Tuesday.

Tuesday? That’s today. Their link takes you to the text of the bill. Among an ark-load of other things it says, with our bold font:

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated […], all relating to creating the West Virginia Student Religious Liberties Act; providing that public school district shall not discriminate against a student’s religious viewpoint or religious expression; providing that students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork and other written assignments without being penalized or rewarded

We’ve seen bills like this before. For example, in 2017: Florida Senate Passes ‘Drool in School’ Bill, and in Ohio last year: Creationist Legislation in Ohio. None have become law yet — at least we don’t think so. Getting back to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, it tells us:

Eli Baumwell, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, says the legislation (House Bill 4069) will cause confusion. [Really?]

The bill’s sponsor is Delegate Gary Howell. Wikipedia has an article on him: Gary Howell, which says:

He has worked extensively in the motorsports industry. He has raced both stock cars and drag cars, built winning race cars, built award winning show cars, and designed racing parts. His media skills include hosting and writing a syndicated radio show, freelance writing automotive magazine articles, and guest appearances as technical expert on automotive TV shows.

And here’s his page at the legislature’s website: Gary G. Howell, which talks about his committees and all the bills he’s sponsored. Not very interesting.

The news article goes on and on, but it’s not about creationism. We’ll leave them here and wait for news of what the legislature is going to do with this mess. One never knows.

This link takes you to the legislature’s page on the bill’s status: House Bill 4069. Hey — it passed in the House! Now it moves on to the Senate. Isn’t this exciting?

The West Virginia legislature is scheduled to adjourn on 07 March, so they have time to pass this mess and send it to the governor for his signature. We shall see.

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13 responses to “West Virginia Has a ‘Drool in School’ Bill

  1. Michael Fugate

    It would nice to see some example of a voluntary viewpoint on a permissible subject is. Which subjects can a student have a religious viewpoint about that it is appropriate to express?

  2. Michael Fugate: Well, history, for one. One might advance the thesis that Christian values, ethics, and outlook in general and Protestant ones in particular are a primary cause for the rise to dominance of the West and of the advance of democracy and respect for human rights; that the Enlightenment itself (a subject dear to the heart of this blog) is an efflorescence of Christianity. That view is certainly cranky, but building it requires at least an ability to argue historical cause from evidence, which is probably as much as one can reasonably expect from a high school student. Rebutting it the same, of course.

    Still, an understanding of the history of Europe or America requires a knowledge of the influence, principal tenets, and actual effects of Christianity. By all means, a student may express the view that these were all to the good. Such a student might even learn the skills of historical argument by defending that view. And the main lines of the objections to it. All good.

    Then there’s English literature. An examination of the influence of religion on, say, the works of Harper Lee or of George Eliot is, I think, an essential aspect of appreciating the discourses of “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “The Mill on the Floss”, and it is impossible to carry out such an examination without a thorough understanding of what that religion was – Christianity, specifically Protestantism, strongly influenced in both cases by Methodism. For that matter, the King James (Authorised) translation of the Bible is a very significant work of English literature in its own right, although it would be a bold school or school district that put it on a list of works to be studied in Eng Lit. Study necessarily requires critical examination. I suspect a critical examination of the KJV would cause even more parental complaints than a thorough grounding in the theory of evolution does.

  3. @Dave Luckett
    You bring up a point which I have been thinking about lately. I have long wondered about what people who read the Bible make of long passages like Expdus 25 – the details of the Tabernacle. On the other hand, the is the small knowledge of other parts. And it then occurred to me that is consistent. They “read” the Bible with no expectation of understanding. The description of the Tabernacle or the Sermon on the Mount – all the same.

  4. Still worse is 1 Kings ch 5-7, a description of the building, furnishings and appointments of Solomon’s Temple – certainly legendary by the time it was written, and possibly entirely fictional. And yes, in the minds of some, that and the Sermon on the Mount or the conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well or the account of the adulteress brought out for stoning, are all of equal weight, being Holy Writ.

    I say “in the minds of some”, but I really mean “in part of the minds of some”, for many of the same people would dismiss the actual decoration of the Temple as “Romish baubles”, and we have seen what is often their reaction to the actual application of the words of Jesus. They don’t apply them. Perhaps the implication is that they don’t understand them, or expect to understand them. I think more likely is the explanation that they don’t want to understand them.

  5. Michael Fugate


    A Christian may say that unrepentant sinners will go to hell, an example cited in the EM [explanatory memorandum] which mirrors the facts of Israel Folau’s case
    A doctor may tell a transgender patient of their religious belief that God made men and women in his image and that gender is therefore binary (EM)
    A single mother who, when dropping her child off at daycare, may be told by a worker that she is sinful for denying her child a father (Public Interest Advocacy Centre)
    A woman may be told by a manager outside work that women should submit to their husbands or that women should not be employed outside the home (PIAC)
    A student with disability may be told by a teacher their disability is a trial imposed by God (PIAC)
    A person of a minority faith may be told by a retail assistant from another religion that they are a “heathen destined for eternal damnation” (PIAC).

  6. Michael Fugate

    Meant to include: Even though Australia, these seem more like what the bill’s author had in mind regarding viewpoints.

  7. As usual I don’t get the point. As a non-American I’m totally OK with creacrappers spouting their nonsense whenever and wherever they like. That’s not the problem. The problem, as several American teachers are willing to testify, is religious students unwilling to learn evolution theory properly – them wanting to replace this theory and the supporting evidence by their crap.
    So I propose a small addition.

    “….. providing that ….. rewarded; however they are obliged to acquire a proper understanding of scientific theories (specifically evolution theory) and the empirical data that support them, according to the current scientific consensus.”
    Now I’m not a lawyer, so sue me if there still are some loopholes, but you get the idea. The point is rather that

    1. such a law should be superfluous;
    2. creacrappers won’t accept it.

  8. @MichaelF: “Which subjects can a student have a religious viewpoint about that it is appropriate to express?”
    AfaIc all possible subjects. Were I a teacher I would totally neglect them (ie neither reward or punish). On a test about evolution theory a creacrap student can waste his time and ink on “evilution wrong! goddiddid!” as often as he likes, as long he/she’s capable of correctly answering questions about common descent. On a test about history the student eg will have to know that the agricultural revolution happened, what is it?, 10 000 – 12 000 years ago, that there were five long Ice-ages etc. etc.

  9. Charley Horse X

    QUOTE: It’s true that much of the bill mirrors religion in schools guidance recently published by the Trump administration.
    The draft policy would include:

    Guaranteeing football team captains and student council officers freedom of speech rights regarding religion that other students may not be given;
    Requiring a random selection process for student speakers and chronologically matching those selected to speaking engagements;
    Limitations on the content of graduation speeches.

    “I’ve never heard of a limitation on the First Amendment that would require you be in a position of honor,” said Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia.

  10. With these ‘keep kids st00pid’ bills getting passed, employers will have to give their own SAT to find out if the diploma is real!

  11. This is not a “keep kids stupid” bill. This is a “keep kids ignorant” bill. Remember ignorance is curable, stupid is permanent. One can be educated and stupid. One can be uneducated and smart. WHile one can be educated and ignorant, it is harder. There are plenty of uneducated smart people in the world. Last way of saying it. Stupid is an internal permanent state of the person. Ignorance is a result of actions or inactions by the person.

  12. Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers